UH faculty delays vote on Navy contract
Regents are unlikely to act on the UARC plan before January
The University of Hawaii should postpone until next year plans for a multimillion-dollar Navy research center at the school, university officials and faculty said yesterday.
The UH Faculty Senate once again delayed today's planned vote on whether to support the proposed $50 million University Affiliated Research Center at the Manoa campus.
An eight-member faculty committee says it needs more time to review the center's 85-page contract. The committee called off an Oct. 26 meeting for the same reason.
"It is taking longer than anticipated," said committee Chairwoman Sara Rutter, a librarian. "I certainly hope the Board of Regents won't make a decision before hearing from the faculty."
The faculty meeting was rescheduled for Nov. 16, a day before the Board of Regents meets for the last time this year at Maui Community College.
Interim UH President David McClain and interim Manoa Chancellor Denise Konan said they would wait for the faculty's vote before deciding whether to recommend the center to regents.
But because state law requires agencies to post agenda items a week in advance, the board will have to wait until their Jan. 19 meeting at Kapiolani Community College on Oahu to act on the research center.
"Realistically speaking, it is unlikely that the issue would formally come before the board for a vote, because there are internal deadlines that we will not be able to meet," said university spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka.
Manoa Faculty Chairman Robert Bley-Vroman said the only way to speed up the process would be to call for a special meeting on Nov. 9. But he said that is unlikely to occur.
"I don't see this happening," said Bley-Vroman. "You want to give adequate notice of meetings."
The proposed center has sparked numerous protests by students, professors and the community, some of whom took over McClain's office last spring for a week, demanding it be abandoned.
A number of professors worry the center could disrupt existing programs, set up publication restrictions on research results and allow for weapons development on campus.
Administrators pushing for the center say it is an alternative way to get research grants during tight budget times. They also have said all work would need to adhere to existing school policies.
The Navy has not established a research lab with a university in more than 50 years. The nation's other four Navy-backed research centers are located at Pennsylvania State University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University.
Hawaii was recommended for the fifth center in July 2004.